Saturday, April 12, 2014

A 52 Word Journey for Bible Study in 2014: Words 13 and 14: Joy and Gluttony

In January, I began a series of blog posts summarizing what I'm calling my 52 word journey of Bible study. I'm taking one word from Scripture a week and studying it as part of my personal Bible study. As a means of helping to organize my jumbled notes (and often equally jumbled mind!), I'm sharing my journey of study on my blog. Over the last two weeks, I've studied the words joy and gluttony. I should note that when I made my list of 52 words at the beginning of the year, I formulated the list as words came to me, so there is no rhyme or reason to the order. Hence, I'm covering joy and gluttony in the same post, though perhaps a challenge at times for us as fallen, but forgiven, humans is that we find joy in gluttony.

The word joy, or some form of the word, appears in the Bible over 200 times. In the NIV, 25 different Hebrew words and 10 different Greek words are translated "joy". The definitions of many of these words centered around the concepts of exultation and gladness--stronger words than simply the emotion of happiness. During my study, there were two key things that jumped out to me: 1) the verbs associated with joy in the Old Testament 2) the adjectives associated with joy in the New Testament. As someone who isn't as demonstratively joyful as she could be, these challenged me.

In the Old Testament, the verbs associated with joy were quite demonstrative. Here are just a handful of examples:
  • shouted for joy (Ezra 3:12)
  • sing for joy (1 Chronicles 16:33)
  • ate/drank with great joy (1 Chronicles 29:22)
  • celebrated with joy (Ezra 6:16)
  • led with joy (Psalm 45:15)
  • filled with joy (Psalm 126:3)
While the Old Testament focused how joy might be manifested in our lives by our actions, the New Testament provides us with an understanding of the extent of joy we should seek in our lives. Multiple times the apostle John discusses the idea of complete of full measure of joy. In John 16:24, he quotes Jesus saying that asking anything in His name will lead to "your joy being complete". In John 17: 13, Jesus prays that the disciples might have a "full measure of joy". In 1 John 1:4, John writes the letter to make the joy of those who received the letter complete, and in 2 John 1:12, he says that he want to visit the recipients of the letter to make his joy complete. Paul similarly notes how specific people (Timothy-2 Timothy 1:4) or churches (the Macedonian church-2 Corinthians 8:2) can make people overflow or be filled with joy. It is a great and challenging lesson to learn that joy is not only an action or response to God, it's a relational term with our family in Christ. Those relationships can help us be joyful.

To my surprise, in the NIV, the word "glutton", "gluttons", or "gluttony" only appears 7 times. Perhaps, this stems in part to the fact that I wrongly thought that gluttony (seen as one of the seven deadly sins in some circles) was one the things listed by Solomon in Proverbs 6 as detestable to God. Gluttony is not listed in the Proverbs 6 passage, though later in the book (Proverbs 23:2) Solomon uses some hyperbole to make a point about gluttony saying, " put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony". This is similar to Jesus' message in the sermon on the mount when he talks about cutting off your hand or gouging out your eye if it causes you to sin (in context, commit adultery). Both of these strong statements point to the seriousness of  removing temptations that pull us away from God, whether its sexual sin or finding too much pleasure in physical food. The pleasures of this earth must be seen in an eternal context. They are temporary enjoyments that cannot give us meaningful fulfillment of complete joy.

  Previous posts:

 Introduction to the 52 Word Journey

 Words 1 and 2: Confidence and Peace

 Words 3 and 4: Perseverance and Works

Words 5 and 6: Humility and Compassion

Words 7 and 8: Kindness and Faithfulness

Words 9 and 10: Goodness and Pride

Words 11 and 12: Self-Control and Self-Discipline

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